So many of the questions Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil sees on SeekersHub Answer service have to do with marriage. By the time the questions reach her, things have already gone badly.
An oft-repeated theme I see is this: parents who are deeply unhappy with the cultural background of the person their son or daughter wishes to marry.
If you’re single and reading this, then it’s likely that you have parents who are actively involved in your lives. If you’re from a very cultural background, then it’s possible that your parents want you to marry from that same culture. Sometimes, even the same village. Parents want what’s best for their children, based on their understanding of the world. Invariably, their version of what’s best is so different to their adult children’s.
Please do something differently.
Rather than wait until you meet Mr or Ms So-Right-For-You-But-So-Wrong-For-Your-Parents at your local halaqa, college, or work, please broach the topic from now. Even better – please enrol in and complete this course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. (I know how hard it can be to successfully completing an online course. Pair yourself up with an accountability buddy. Discuss lessons after you listen to them.)
Talk to your parents.
Ask them what they envisage for you in terms of a suitable marriage partner. They may surprise you, or they may not. They key is to let them talk, and then really listen. Not a “I’m pretending to hear you so then I can get my opinion in”, but a sincere, open-hearted kind of listening. Stay calm. Read between the lines. Try to understand what your parents are really telling you. Is it fear of the unknown? Is it social pressure from their friends and family members? Is it their own baggage from their marriage?
Validate their concerns.
Help them feel like you actually care about what they have to say. Then use wisdom and tact to offer your point of view. Ask compassionate scholars and/or elders in your community for support, if need be.
Is talking to your parents a sure-fire way of guaranteeing their blessings and smooth sailing? I can’t guarantee that. But I can hope and pray that it’s a step in the right direction. I encourage you to enrol in The Rights of Parents to get an idea of the tremendous station of parents, and the reward in treating them with goodness.
May Allah soften the hearts of our parents, give us the wisdom and patience to approach them, and bless the ummah of our Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).